AIAC director resigns over MACC investigation

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on November 22, 2018.
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KUALA LUMPUR: Professor Dr Sundra Rajoo has resigned as director of the Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) following a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigation into his alleged misconduct including the use of public funds to influence ministers to get his term extended.

AIAC advisory board member, Vinayak Pradhan, has been appointed acting director with immediate effect, the Attorney-General’s Chambers announced in a statement yesterday.

The MACC had arrested Sundra at 10.30pm on Tuesday after he turned himself in, according to news portal The Malaysian Insight.

Sundra spent a night at the MACC lock-up but was released yesterday after Putrajaya magistrate Khir Nizam denied the graft busters a seven-day remand application and ruled they had no jurisdiction to detain him as he was protected under the International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1992 (Act 485).

Moreover, his lawyer Philip Koh said he was protected under the Diplomatic Privileges (Vienna Convention) Act 1966. “He is no longer under arrest or remand. The judge agreed that Sundra Rajoo is protected under the International Organisation Act and is not liable for any form of arrest under diplomatic privileges ... he is released without any condition.”

Sundra had been AIAC director for nine years prior to the probe which resulted in the MACC raid of his office yesterday. The graft busters also questioned several staff members over claims he had used government funds to influence past and present ministers to extend his contract as AIAC director.

An anonymous letter addressed to the MACC, and copied to Attornery-General Tommy Thomas, Inspector-General of Police Fuzi Harun, Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, Malaysian Bar president George Varughese and other senior government officials was the catalyst for the investigation.

In his statement, Thomas thanked Sundra for his nine-year leadership of the AIAC and expressed his confidence in Pradhan.

“Having personally known Pradhan for decades, I can vouch for his unimpeachable integrity which will enhance the standing of the AIAC in the domestic and international arenas. I am confident he will lead AIAC to lofty heights.”

Pradhan is the past president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK), Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitrators in Hague, as well as a consultant at law firm Skrine. A University of Singapore law graduate, he was called to the Malaysian Bar in 1974.